MVNO Monday: a guide to the week’s virtual operator developments

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24 May 2021

Paris-based mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) Transatel has revealed that it has launched seven new UK MVNOs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. New MVNOs include PopIT, which seeks to become ‘the local mobile operator of choice for Yorkshire’; Ilford-based UK TELL, which caters to the Bangladeshi community; and B2B players CINOS and 9eons, both of which now offer their own Unified Communications SIM services. All MVNOs utilise the EE network, as a result of the decade-long partnership between the two businesses. The press release notes: ‘The lockdown rushed many businesses to adapt to remote work solutions and spiked telecom activity: cellular voice minutes alone doubled since March 2020. Now, SMEs are taking the steps towards a more sustainable business model by gaining control over their revenue streams and moving up the value chain from being resellers to value-added service providers.’

Malaysian MVNO redONE has launched in Thailand, via the TOT/National Telecom network. The service went live on 18 May. redONE Thailand becomes the group’s third MVNO, following launches in its domestic market (2008) and Singapore (2019). Going forward, redONE hopes to be up and running in a total of ten ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) markets by 2022. Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have previously been named as target markets.

The latest Brazilian football team to launch MVNO services is Gremio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense. Branded Gremio Cell, the service has been enabled by Dry Company do Brasil, which has previously launched 16 other football-themed MVNOs. Like its predecessors, Gremio Cell will utilise the TIM Brasil network for connectivity.

Altice France has agreed to acquire 100% of Afone Participations, thus securing a 50% stake in MVNO Reglo Mobile. The remaining 50% stake in the MVNO is held by supermarket firm Leclerc Group. The MVNO – which launched back in 2007 – currently serves 770,000 subscribers and uses Altice’s SFR network. The acquisition is subject to approval from the Competition Authority (Autorite de la Concurrence).

Netherlands-based Enreach, a unified communications group backed by investment company Waterland, has entered the Nordics via the acquisition of Finland-based Benemen. As per the press release, ‘[Benemen’s] cloud-based communication solutions include fully native fixed-mobile integration which is enabled by Benemen being an MVNO in its key markets of Finland, Sweden and Poland’. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

Macquarie Capital Principal Finance (Macquarie Capital) has agreed to acquire UK B2B operator Wavenet from private equity investor Beech Tree, which has owned the company since 2016. Wavenet, which was founded in 2000, currently serves 8,000 SME and enterprise customers. Alongside its voice and data solutions, it also offers a ‘network agnostic’ business mobile service, which leverages agreements with ‘all three major carriers’ (i.e. O2, EE and Vodafone). 5G mobile connectivity is also available, the telco notes.

Los Angeles-based MVNO TruConnect has confirmed its participation in the new Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) programme, and provided an indication of its progress to date. According to Fierce Wireless, which interviews Matthew Johnson, who runs the company with his brother Nathan, TruConnect currently bills itself as the fourth largest Lifeline provider, with more than 600,000 customers nationwide. The brothers built the company through a combination of internal growth and acquisitions, including the likes of Telscape Communications, Sage Telecom and TruConnect Mobile.

Vodafone Italy sub-brand ho ended 31 March 2021 with 2.5 million customers, Vodafone Group has confirmed. According to the GlobalComms Database, Vodafone Italy launched its budget sub-brand ho in June 2018 in response to the Italian launch of low-cost provider Iliad.

Grupo Ingenium has launched SUMA Movil-branded mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) services in a third Latin American market, namely Peru. The company previously launched in Colombia in 2018 and Chile in 2019. MVNOs using its Colombian platform include Unicorn Mobile, which targets the LGBTI community, B2B player Wings Mobile, youth-orientated Kalley Movil, IoT-focused Alai Secure, recharge specialist Conectame Movil, pay-TV firm Comunicamos Mas and international long-distance (ILD) provider SIP Movil. All MVNOs utilise the Tigo Colombia network. In Chile, meanwhile, it enables connectivity for Mundo Pacifico’s Mundo Movil service as well as for Alai Secure. The Chilean MVNOs use the Movistar Chile network. In Peru, meanwhile, all future MVNOs will use the Entel network.

Finally, Plintron has announced that it has obtained an MVNO licence from Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute (Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, IFT). The company has also signed a wholesale contract with open access 700MHz player Altan Redes (Red Compartida) and intends to work as an MVNA alongside the network operator. Plintron says its Mexican service will have a network capacity of five million active subscribers; the platform is expected to be live by Q2 2021.

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